JFCS Hosts AmeriCorps Vista

Sandra Leshaw, Ariel Barreras, and Katie Wolchko

Over the last year, JFCS has hosted AmeriCorps VISTA members, introducing recent college graduates to the world of nonprofits. (VISTA stands for Volunteers in Service to America.) Sandra LeShaw facilitates the JFCS Americorps Vista program.

Michele Wellikoff, JFCS’s Chief Development Officer since May, is an AmeriCorps veteran. She spent a year as a VISTA in 1997-1998 working with the NYC Community Food Bank where she helped screen people for food stamp eligibility, assisted in various tasks related to nonprofit management and social service agencies. Michele’s VISTA experience had a profound impact on Michele as she decided to go back to school for her Master’s degree in Social Work. Since then, Michele has held various positions at JFS Clifton and now at JFCS in Teaneck.

This month, AmeriCorps graduate Katie Wolchko joined JFCS as its full-time Grants Associate. She started at JFCS as an AmeriCorps VISTA last year, assisting the fundraising and administrative teams. Connecting her day-to-day work with the JFCS mission was a significant part of her learning process. She gained an immense appreciation for those who work in direct social service. “There is a tremendous amount of need in our community that often goes unnoticed and JFCS is always there to answer the call.” Katie has met many friends and colleagues who added to her introduction to nonprofit in a very positive way.

Ariel Barreras joined JFCS as an AmeriCorps VISTA last August and recently accepted a position as a library assistant in Bergen County.

Throughout her time at JFCS, Ariel gained a greater perspective on the needs of this community while adding value to the team. She worked closely with many JFCS professionals and, as the VISTA member assigned to the Re-Launch Career Services initiative, she conducted extensive research on job-related resources and trends. Ariel greatly enjoyed her experience with JFCS, and she recently accepted a library assistant position in Bergen County. Starting next month, Ariel will also be using the AmeriCorps VISTA educational grant to attend Rutgers University for her Master’s degree in Library & Information Science.

JFCS currently has three open positions for AmeriCorps VISTA members to begin work in October of 2019. Those roles are within the following departments: Food Pantry, Re-Launch Career, and Fundraising and Administration. Two positions in Marketing and Club Ed afterschool program have already been filled. Interested candidates should send a cover letter and resume to HR@jfcsnnj.org

AmeriCorps VISTA is a federal government initiative that provides opportunities for nonprofit organizations like JFCS to benefit from the support of VISTA members while creating opportunities for people to add value to the community. VISTA members are often, but not always, recent college graduates who are either exploring career opportunities or in a gap year between undergraduate and graduate school. For more information, go to www.nationalservice.gov/programs/americorps/Americorpsvista.